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THIS WEEK'S RAR
Listen by clicking on the links or covers below.
Yours truly is offering up a little
Jazz-Pop confection, with all admiration for the ancient Greeks, who
knew a thing or two about winging it philosophically.
Use this link or click on
poor Democritus below to hear "A Simple Explanation".
Oh perversity at the county fair! I'm
sure involvement with the Future Farmers of America has ruined more than
a few young boys, what with all the glamour and all, and the exposure to
link or click on the good people below to hear another in a nauseating
string of RAR originals - "(You Do) That Thing That Sets Me Free".
Yours truly has been all about myself of
late, which is why I am behind on record reviews and most everything
else, but I do have a new batch of recordings, starting with
"Betty from Memphis", a tribute to stable types such as
my actual Aunt Betty (Olita) in Memphis (not shown here), as well as to
all those weary road warriors out there playing the soundtracks to
everybody else's movies.
"creative destruction", like Mitt Romney does.
Walty's Dead" is a cowboy yarn about a villain -
personified by the late and wonderful Warren Oates (below) - who
has left an unfortunate legacy for himself (see chorus...). Walty is my
metaphor for early 21st Century predatory capitalism, a force that must
be dealt with so that honest souls can carry on.
Glory be unto Angie Omaha, whoever
she is, pictured below on the cover to my next- generation version of
of Your Dark Eyes", introduced several years back
as a tune about "the dark side of loving a dark soul". Our girl Angie
may not let me exploit her in this way for long, but as long as she does
isn't she perfect? I mean, for this song?
Minutes" comes from a few years back, and from the same
box as "The Glow of Your Dark Eyes", but the versions provided below
come much closer to my ambitions for this story of a booze-fueled
cuckold speeding toward a crime of passion and revenge. The song is
almost entirely played around the single chord of E, with occasional
transitions through A-B, for those keeping score. The "psycho" version
was the original inspiration, but the Nashville chicken-pickin' version
has some nice qualities. Unfortunately it also shows that as a guitar
player I am no Randy Barker, though I hope to be when I grow up.
(Randy Barker played with Michael Woody and
the Too High Band, which in the end gave him way too little
exposure, but those who heard him play remember it even 30 years later
as something special.)
IN THIS EDITION
New Releases on
Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread"
Mobile Disco and "Keep You"
off the Chronicle movie
"Goodbye to Love" from
October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011
Black Box Revelation Live on
Minnesota Public Radio;
Apteka "Striking Violet";
Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get
Along"; Dana deChaby's
|"The Musical Meccas of the World"
Compositions and Select Covers
►Fiction and Non-Fiction
"The One I
Love" - David Gray
- '70s Avatars of Progressive Rock
'70s British prog rockers in Nektar rose from cult status in Europe to enjoy a
four-year run on the U.S. album and singles charts. Their focus was on creating
a psychedelic experience. They were all about "concept." Their 1973 Remember
the Future LP told the story of a blind kid who communicates with an
extraterrestrial. "Astral Man" became a hit single for them off their
1975 Down to Earth LP, which featured a circus theme. They peaked
artistically, to the minds of some, in 1976 with their album Recycled, which landed them a deal
with Polydor, at the time a label with a strong U.S. presence. (Polydor's
U.S. label is no more, but as a U.K. label Polydor's stable includes Klaxons,
Sophie Ellis-Bextor, James Morrison, Take That and Kaiser Chiefs. Under an
agreement with Interscope-Geffen-A&M, Polydor distributes Eminem and Gwen
Stefani in the U.K.). As so frequently happens with big label newbies, Nektar got one shot with Polydor,
produced an LP, Magic Is A Child (1977), that sounded a little too much
like pop for the band's early fans, though Nektar had veered
far from their original German-era style anyway. They experienced the usual
major label packaging of compilation and live material and they disappeared
until 2002, when they re-formed to headline the NEARfest, which they
followed with an album, The Prodigal Son. They have released two more
subsequent to that.
contributor Diana Olson was in Germany to witness Nektar's early incarnation and
in this issue she checks in with the progressives 30 years hence on the heels of
their 2007 release, Book of Days.
Diana Olson Converses with Roye
were known as the father time of Progressive Rock. Formed in 1970, the
breakthrough for the all-British band NEKTAR was not in their homeland, but in
Germany (and the USA). With albums like “Remember The Future”, “Down To
Earth” and “Recycled” (all 3 reaching Gold-Status) they rocketed to one of
the top acts of the 70’s. Their shows back then are still talked about to this
day which featured one of the best lightshows ever seen. I can personally attest
to that statement, as I was one of those fans. I lived in Darmstadt Germany when
Nektar blew in. It was a time of the “love children” generation. Flowers,
folk music, and poetry. There was an old wine cellar in the city that was
converted to a coffee house (called The Underground) where the band would
frequent. It was a tiny place and their huge light and sound shook the earth.
After witnessing Nektars incredible light show and hearing their progressive
rock music, I became an instant fan, friend and groupie. I spent a great deal of
time following the band, often chatting backstage after their concerts. Their
music was not just music, it was a philosophical and revolutionary experience!
Nektar was way ahead of its time and they knew it. I returned to the US and
continued to enjoy their albums over the years. When Nektar came to the US on a
world tour in 1974, I was so happy to see that their talents were finally being
appreciated in the USA.
had a charismatic front man, Roye Albrighton who had shared a stage with Jimi
Hendrix, Allan “Taff” Freeman; a unique keyboard player, Derek “Mo”
Moore; a bass playing powerhouse and Ron Howden; with fluidity rarely found in a
drummer. Fifth member Mick Brockett was not a musician, but was responsible for
one of the most stunning light and visual shows ever to grace the rock stage.The
roots of Nektar lay in Hamburg in 1970. The band Prophecy, (featuring Freeman,
Moore and Howden), were performing in the legendary Star Club. It was here that
Prophecy met an extremely talented guitarist Roye Albrighton, also playing the
German club circuit. Disillusioned with his own group, Albrighton was approached
by Prophecy to join them as a guitar player. Light technician Mick Brockett (who
had worked with Pink Floyd in the late sixties), had been providing visual
backdrops for Prophecy in Germany and was invited to become a permanent fixture
in the new band. Opting for a name change, Nektar was born.
was with the 1973 album “Remember the Future” that Nektar’s real
breakthrough came. The album became Nektar’s first American release and
entered the Billboard album chart in 1974, attaining Gold status without the
band ever having visited the USA. An American tour was swiftly booked, with
Nektar becoming a major concert attraction.
their huge success of the 70’s and 80’s, the 90’s were a quiet time for
the band. In 2001 a new Nektar album appeared, “The Prodigal Son”, and since
then the band have gone from strength to strength and are once again on the
podium of one of the best bands on the international Progressive scene. A huge
part of Nektars career can be afforded to their record company Bellaphon records
who began with their debut album -”Journey To The Centre Of The Eye”
including many records throughout the 70’s including their Comeback-Album “The
Prodigal Son”. This was the starting point for the eventual release of further
products from the band.
Exactly 4 years after their last album “Evolution”,
they will release their new work “Book of Days”, on Friday May 16th 2008. It
includes 8 songs of full blown arrangements and intertwined with pure rock and
soaring solos and beautiful ballads that only NEKTAR know how to do.Already
during their last autumn tour 2007, parts of the new album were being performed,
and press critics have hailed these as some of the best NEKTAR yet. After
several changes in the bands “live” lineup, 2 of the original members remain
Roye Albrighton (guitar/lead vocals) and Ron Howden (drums/vocals) together with
2 German musicians Klaus Henatsch (keyboards/vocals) and Peter Pichl
With “Book Of Days” Nektar are starting a new
chapter in their career. I asked Roye Albrighton……..
How has your music changed
over the years?
I think it’s inevitable
that the writing of Nektars music will change, but this has always been the case
with this band. Every album was different in its concept and it’s tonal
makeup. I don’t think that any 2 albums were ever the same that is the classic
Nektar way. Sometimes it would stray toward the more commercial side of things,
and then in the next step it would go somewhere totally different. I just want
to write music that’s interesting and at the same time arouses thoughts and
Tell me a little about your
Book of Days is a fairly loose
concept, the main object of it being to describe certain aspects of our present
life styles that are good or not so good. A kind of diary into the human
condition. I am an animal lover and feel the cruelty toward whales in this
civilized world to be unacceptable, so I wrote a song about it. This is the sort
of thing this album is set to create, observations of our present world.
What do you want people to
get from your music?
I would like people to take what
they want from it. I don’t think pushing listeners into liking your music
makes a great deal of sense, if they find it arouses feelings, memories or
emotions, then the music has done it’s job.
Do you still have an
extensive light show?
Not like the 70’s, but we
concentrate more on stage lighting these days.
Who do you feel were your
Oh so much and so many. I think
Hendrix and the Beatles did a lot of damage in this department..hard acts to
Do you remember playing in
The Underground in Darmstadt….that tiny little place…..what are your
memories of that time in 1970 with the band?
Wow! yes a great place in another
time. I can’t say I remember too much, I was relatively young back then and
had a head full of music that had to come out somehow, but the memories of
Martin Scheemer and the MAN band still remain.
Is there a tour planned?
We are working on getting
the band over to the USA for 2009, but it’s very hard in this financial
climate, still we are trying. As for Europe, we will be doing a tour in
October/November; I’ll keep you posted.
more information on NEKTAR, go to www.bellaphon.de,
http://nektarsmusic.com, and www.myspace.com/nektar1970onwards
Journey To The Centre Of The Eye (1972), Label: Bacillus
A Tab In The Ocean (1972), Label: Bacillus
Sounds Like This (1973), Label: Bacillus
Remember The Future (1973), Label: Bacillus, CD [remastered 2002]
Down To Earth (1974), Label: Bacillus
Sunday Night At The London Roundhouse (1974), Label: Bacillus,
2-CD [remastered 2002]
Recycled (1975), Label: Bacillus
Live In New York (1977), Label: Bacillus
Magic Is A Child (1977), Label: Bacillus
More Live Nektar In New York (1978), Label: Bacillus
Man In The Moon (1980), Wiederveröffentlichung in Vorbereitung
The Prodigal Son (2001), Label: Bacillus
Unidentified Flying Abstract - Live At Chipping Norton 1974 (2002), Label:
Evolution (2004), Wiederveröffentlichung in Vorbereitung
Book Of Days (Veröffentlichung: 16.05.2008), Label: Bacillus
MAGAZINE ROCK AWARDS 2007
reigning heavy metal magazine, the 26-year old Kerrang! (German for
"boner"), has been aging a bit, or so one could infer from the
publication's close connection with a genre that produced most of its
stars a couple decades ago.
overtook the venerable New Musical Express several years ago as the
most widely circulated music magazine in the U.K., but someone there in
the front office must have given some thought to the risks of stagnation.
Over the past two years Kerrang! has been remaking itself into a
more broadly ranging vehicle for promoting today's rock. In fact, the
magazine has played a significant role in raising the profile of such new
scene stealers as non-metal contenders Enter Shikari, The Lost
Prophets and Gallows. Circulation numbers remain strong, but
this shift in focus has been a mixed bag, as one might imagine, for the
publication in terms of pleasing long-time readers. The magazine that
championed thrash and glam metal acts like Mötley Crüe, Slayer,
Metallica and Poison has gone a little emo of late.
thorny dilemma was evident in the 2007 awards, a mixture of reverence to the "glorious" pasts of Judas Priest,
Trent Reznor and The Deftones, to tips of the hat for mag favorites The
Lost Prophets, selected Best British Band for the second year running.
That is Lost Prophets frontman Ian Watkins there on the right, counting
SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENCE
Out Boy 'This Ain't A Scene'
HALL OF FAME AWARD
KERRANG ICON AWARD
NINE INCH NAILS
HARD ROCK HERO
Head 'The Blackening'
SECONDS TO MARS 'The Kill'
BEST LIVE BAND
BEST INTERNATIONAL BAND
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
BEST BRITISH BAND
BEST NEW BAND
BEST BRITISH NEWCOMER
Go to http://blog.kerrangawards.com/winners.html for
a completing accounting of the Kerrang Magazine Rock Awards.
photograph above is reported, on the Kerrang website, to be of Ashley
Simpson entering the awards ceremony through a back entry. It prompted the
following representative series of replies posted August 24 on the Kerrang
why is that little poser shit here, GO BACK
TO AMERICA BITCH - y in fuck is she here get lost!!!!!! - Get home where
you belong. - i dont like that person - eurgh hate her! - she makes me
puke! *puking* - She´s a bitch just like her sister!!
One may also find anti-Ashley
Simpson opinions expressed on the Kerrang blog. (And you think you
want to be famous...)
those of us old enough to have experienced the British Invasion, and
then the Punk era of a decade-and-a-half later, one of the most noxious
lines ever delivered was Joe Strummer's defiant assertion that "phony
Beatlemania has bitten the dust." To be replaced by The Clash?
THE CORAL may be the living embodiment of this generational
disconnect. At their most charming they are replicants of early Beatles
- not territory generally trod by other than Beatles tribute bands. The
Coral does the earnest harmonies, simple arrangements and guileless
vocal deliveries. In this mode, they write the kind of
Nashville-influenced melodies the Fab Four used to churn out seemingly
effortlessly. And in this mode, The Coral achieves a kind of lift off, a
refreshing carefree musicality. "Dreaming of You," which you
can hear on their MySpace site, even features a vocal approximating
something like a John Lennon growl.
is, then, that other band residing within, that sounds influenced by The
Doors and The Clash, and sometimes even pre-dawn folkies like The
Kingston Trio. The swing from one to the next makes The Coral a
wildly uneven unit, but not uninteresting. They cover all this
waterfront convincingly, not in a virtuoso, visionary way, but more like
well intentioned and fairly unpretentious music lovers.
The Coral is an engaging and energetic
live act, where their disjointed recording focus can be redirected and
used as a dynamic tool. The bandmembers are (clockwise from far left):
John Duffy (percussion), Paul Duffy ( bass), Bill Ryder (lead guitar), Lee
Southall (rhythm guitar), James Skelly (guitar). Drummer Ian Skully and
Organist Nick Power are not pictured.
The Coral's can be heard
at their MySpace site at www.myspace.com/thecoral.
Samples from their new album can be heard by clicking here.
look - you've got a problem with Snow Patrol or Pete Doherty, you are
probably okay, right? You'd probably have to feel that way to love SELFISH
CUNT (a completely unnecessary thing to say, but a line I'll
pleasure). The nasty Londoners prank Scottish loveables and trade hands with
celebrity drug addicts and offend critics and get themselves banned from
venues (including the Barflys, ICA, On The Rocks, The Egg). Why it's
almost like being in punk.
Cunt struck a nerve with the tender hit "Britain is Shit/Fuck the
Poor," which most certainly must have been an unintentional
juxtaposition of words, but never mind. The blow was struck and people
started to notice - not just that Selfish Cunt is provocative (in the
extreme), but genuinely good. And it's a good thing, because as a rule
viciousness is not a strong selling point. Vulgarity sometimes works,
but not viciousness. But never mind, Blackburn vocalist Martin
Tomlinson (the band's primary tosser of horse manure - Google that)
is eerily Johnny Rotten; not literally, but he's a sound alike.
Here again, this shouldn't work, mimicry having its own ceiling, but
somehow it does and it must be because Martin is tops. His has less of a
snarl than Rotten; is, in fact, more self-possessed like Bowie, more
detached and dreamy. Effectively gay.
guitarist Patrick Constable is more than adequate in the musician's
role. He gives the band a professional polish, while drummer Bambi
and bassist Matthew J. Saw drive the machine with full traction.
which you can hear on MySpace, is a delightful romp down ska-rock lane,
with a Strokes-like bridge and a spooky, ironic chorus. Guardian
Unlimited calls Selfish Cunt one of Britain's "Top 40
bands." That seems conservative.
Cunt MP3s can be heard at their MySpace site at
Selfish Cunt's 2004 release was titled No
Wicked Heart Shall Prosper and is available at an Import price.
PUNK - A state
of petulance preceding humility and rationalization
Smith has been ROOTS MANUVA for 13 years now, since assuming the
identity in 1994 while still collaborating with Blak Twang, and
since his 1999 breakthrough hit "Brand New Second Hand" he has
been the sine qua non of British hip-hop. That distinction doesn't
necessarily translate into huge commercial success, partly because the big
U.S. hip-hop market doesn't have a British accent and does have a long
reach. Roots' omnipresence in the British market has been largely gained,
since the turn of the century, through his hook-ups with a group of other
eclectic artists (including
Cinematic Orchestra, Beth Orton, Leftfield, the Gorillaz
other signature approach has been to take his reggae techno. The son of
Jamaican parents, the Stockwell (South London) native blends his
instinctive island feel with dance club electronics. His rich voice lives
on the back end of beats like a sucker punch, but Roots isn't a gangster.
He's a head. He is going to go where few have gone before, blending
political commentary with romantic melodic refrains and doing it with a
disarming house rawness. It is exotic stuff, experimental in ways that one
might expect of Miles Davis, were Miles still around.
Manuva MP3s can be heard at their MySpace site at
Roots Manuva's 2006 release Alternately Deep
Roots Manuva LPs (clockwise from top left) - Awfully Deep (2005), Dub
Come Save Me (2002), Run Come Save Me (2001), and Brand New
Second Hand (1999).
seven studio albums, the Welsh rockers SUPER FURRY ANIMALS, or SFA
as their fans know them, are starting to move on. Their last album for
Epic Records, in 2005, was a democratic affair, with Gruff Rhys being
only one of five members contributing songs and lead vocals. Love
Kraft was a pretty relaxed affair that charted only "Lazer
Beam" (which you can hear on the band's MySpace site).
As Gruff went off the record a solo LP for Rough Trade, and Cian Ciaran
and Dafydd leuan off on projects of their own, SFA's cult status
was intact, maybe not growing.
was taking on almost mythical status, however, in their dealings with
Coca-Cola. The band got attention in 2005 for turning down nearly $2
million in fees for the use of "Hello
Sunshine" (which can also be heard on their MySpace
site). They came upon information that Coca-Cola was using violence
against unionized plantation workers in Columbia - a charge that was, of
course, denied - but SFA waved Coke off; a noble act.
when R.E.M. was sort of in the duldrums then released their Monster
album, with "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" and all that
glorious noise? There is a sense among people who care about this sort of
thing that Super Furry Animals is about to deliver one of those.
IT JUST THE SONG? (PROBABLY)
is fascinating in that they have sung a significant amount of their
material in their native Welsh. This is culturally appealing and fits with
the band's socially conscious image (though how sensitive would one really
need to be to hesitate to profit from murder?), but it must be
commercially limiting, no? Or is it that SFA is capable of beautiful
performance, but not really of penning flat-out great tunes? They always
feel heavy on gimmickry to me. A song like "Ice Hockey Hair"
doesn't really need it and adding it sounds incidental. Great vocals,
though, like The Beatles in high flight. "Lazer Beam" and
"Hello Sunshine," by comparison, sound repetitive and uninspired
(like the chorus out on "Ice Hockey Hair"). A lot of dicking
around on an SFA record, until it becomes maddeningly self-indulgent.
Unfortunately, that is also part of the legacy of this band. - RAR
FURRY ANIMALS MP3S:
SFA MP3s can be heard from their MySpace
site at www.myspace.com/superfurry
of SFA Copyright © Izumi
will not be saved from Edith Piaf, at least not by Beth
Gibbons. In 2003 the former Portishead singer gave us an album
with Paul Webb that veered from early '60s Brazilian jazz to a
weird mimicry that recalled Piaf, but really sounded more like Jimmy
Scott. Woh! Was anyone ready for that?
Gibbons does have a carefully worn voice. You can hardly find a reference
to her bluesy style that doesn't also include a reference to her smoking.
Let's hope she gets over that because aging hipsters need a soundtrack
too. Beth Gibbons, like another Beth - Orten - owns one of those
instruments that is capable of melting away that wall that wants to
prevail between artist and listener. You sense that she seeks to explore
new turf for the new world. I'm not totally certain she'll find her new
world voice in the past.
FURRY ANIMALS MP3S:
Gibbons MP3s can be heard from their MySpace site at www.myspace.com/bethgibbonsoutofseason
Gibbons and former Talk Talk member Paul Webb collaborated on the 2003
release Out of Season.
wrote that the music of BROADCAST
sounds beamed in from another planet. That's the result of
pretty obvious tinkering with electronic toys to achieve a moog-like
accompaniment to their essentially '60s pop sound. (They are a natural for
the Austin Powers soundtrack, to which they have contributed "The
Birmingham electronica band is fronted by Trish Keenan, who is
possessed of one of the most beautiful instruments in modern pop. The
band, over its 10-year run, has pretty much dissolved to become only Trish
and bassist/collaborator James Cargill. But what do you need beyond her and a
MP3s can be heard from their MySpace site at www.myspace.com/broadcastuk
Releases counterclockwise from top left: The Future Crayon (2006), Tender
Buttons (2005), Ha Ha Sound (2003), The Noise Made By People
(2000), Work and Non Work ( 1997),
Broadcast vision is the meeting of human emotion in the electronic world.
The optimistic belief in the compatibility of man and machine. A nature
and nurture approach to music. The potential of folk, nursery rhyme and
electronics to provoke memory and imagination. The past set in the future.
A retrospective lyric set in an electronic description of an organic word."
- Broadcast's description of
their "memory music" from their MySpace site
confession of rediscovery is damning.
It isn't like Morrissey had exactly
gone missing, but I had. It was much to my own loss. As a music fan and a
fan of wordsmithing in general, there is no one else really like
Morrissey. His collaborations with Johnny Marr were perfect. The Smiths
were the only band since The Beatles that struck some transcendent chord
in me that could be experienced but not explained, even as people commonly
shared it. And no, it's not a gay thing. One of the things that I
found uplifting about Morrissey - and some might imagine this would be a
short list - was his weird, vulnerable, defiant self awareness. And, of
course, his humorous way of broadcasting it.
followed him - even supported him at the cash register - into his solo
career and recognized the sound changes, but found no real drop-off from
the wit and fury and romantic musicality of his Smith's work. He took on
more of an edge-guitar sound Post-Marr. Still, we had all heard a lot of
Morrissey by Vauxhall and I in 1994. The LP did well in Britain but
Morrissey never achieved more than a cult following in the states. Maybe
Morrissey felt it was time to recede. During his long absence from studio
work, I would hear of him playing some unlikely place in Sonoma County. I
would feel an urge to go, because I've rarely seen Morrissey at all, and
never "live," but never went. I'm not a big nostalgia guy and
Morrissey seemed like a piece of the past.
returned as a recording artist in 2004 refreshingly unchanged in his basic
He is still witty, acerbic, and the writer-guy we have always known, so
maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise that time has served him well. The
older Morrissey is still without classification, sort of a one-off
species. It is the jarringly smooth blending of his menacing physical
nature and his sensitive and openly-shared inner self that makes him an
exercise in performance art.
seems to be living a role in which perverse producers have cast a dock
worker as a gay thespian and instructed him to emote. The knockout is he
does it so damned well!
It continues to take me off guard. Over the years,
Morrissey has been a good
source of publicly provocative - some say "racist" - statements,
and often there are blunt references in his lyrics sprinkled among all the
clever tenderness. The contradictions inform his every move, yet somehow his
performances elicit empathy.
Morrissey flings his strapping big body around in dramatic movements, like
a guy at home singing into his fist in front of his mirror when nobody's
watching. He seems bullied by the force of the sound to strike odd poses
and try broad gestures. He has one of those uncle faces that are frozen
into a work mug and can't really do other than frown, so he is at odds
with his own humor and he simmers. He is Stanley Kowalski living out
dramatically, and Terry Malloy. He seems untouchable, not really a guy you
want to cuddle. But then there is that voice, which has always been
charismatic, but which has now honeyed into a smooth, assured melodic
instrument. It is a neat trick to croon over a distortion-laden guitar
band, and it takes real singer chops, which Morrissey now has in spades.
It feels like our Manchester boy
is back and in a package built to last. Like old pros do, Morrissey
has gotten really good.
wonders, in the Internet / niche market age, if enough people can be
focused on any one guy for us to recognize, any longer, when the next
legend is being made; the next Dylan, Judy Garland or Billie Holliday. Or
the next Montgomery Clift, who is the only man I can think of who begins
to share Morrissey's essential strangeness.
would be my nominee for Outstanding Legend in the Making, were there such
an honor. Recognized or not, the world seems in perspective when
Morrissey's benignly tortured soul is acting out in full force and his
peculiar artistry is revealed. It feels great to have him back.
ARE ON A U.K. LINKS ARCHIVE
Alan Rice (RAR),